Published 21st December 2011, 14:49
Sciencey , Splurge
Well well well. Look who’s not dead! ME, bitches.
The guns of my scientific rage fell silent this year due to a spectacularly bad year with one thing after another. But I will be back with more shortly. This isn’t just a promise. It’s a threat. Yeah.
But I have just written to my MP about libel reform which is an incredibly important issue in the wider context but especially for those who care at all about STEM (see below). The current state of affairs is extraordinarily bad for STEM and needs drastic work. There are many who have dedicated much more time to the issue, have written extensively, and actually acheived a lot of support for libel reform. I advise reading their work to learn more. This is just the text of my own personal support for the cause.
Continue reading ‘Libel Reform’
Published 19th January 2011, 14:55
Sciencey , Splurge
That’s right. This post is about how you are not the person that you thought you were. In fact, you’re only about 10% the person that you thought you were.
This week, I have been delighted to play host to a rather nasty bug that seems to be doing the rounds at the moment. As well as feeling generally pants, I did also manage to rather spectacularly essentially get sick in my own eye. This was as unpleasant and painful as you might think.
Of course, when we say bug we’re not really referring to hemipteran insects (thanks, Wiki!). We actually mean some microbial infection (usually a virus when we talk about having bugs). So as I sat on the bathroom wondering if I’d washed my eye with enough bleach to truly sterilise it (Legal disclaimer: please, please don’t do this at home. At least, not in my home), I found myself hating our microbial cousins. However, once my vomit-vision had cleared up my hostility also vanished, and I decided to write this post about the “point” of bacteria and viruses. It’s not so much going to be about the general biology, but more about how they impact positively on us humans.
Continue reading ‘Not As Human As You Think You Are’
One of the things that is almost guaranteed to make me want to set fire to a newspaper is when a story (or worse, a headline) uses the phrase “scientists say”. You can be fairly sure that what follows is going to be spurious, nebulous and any other negative words that end in -ous. However, whilst I do hold papers responsible for crappy reporting as it should be their duty to research their output, I also recognise that there probably is a misconception in the wider public about the “scientists say” myth.
To boil it down, it seems to me that this “scientists say” idea has, at its core, a misunderstanding of how the scientific community gels together and how ideas, experimental data and fundamental concepts all flow around and are interconnected. To be honest, it’s no surprise that people who aren’t scientists don’t just automatically know this. After all, you don’t know how an industry works until you are actually immersed in it yourself.
Continue reading ‘I Say’
Published 1st November 2010, 13:08
Sciencey , Splurge
Tags: cancer, research, shame
Unfortunately, crappy science can come from all around. It is a particular slap in the face when it comes from your own institution and covers a topic you kind of care about.
And so, with a heavy heart, we must turn to look at Professor Rosalie David’s recent headline-grabbing, stillborn offering in the maternity ward of science. You may well have seen the recent reports in the papers that cancer is a “man-made” disease. The source of this story comes from a University of Manchester press release publicising a recent publication in Nature Reviews Genetics by Prof. David, who is at the University.
I know that I have bashed the way the national press handle science stories before, but in this instance I don’t think that they’re particularly culpable for the negligence displayed in this case. Unfortunately, I lay the blame with the University’s press office and with Prof. David herself.
Continue reading ‘Mummies. Cancer. Bollocks!’
Published 28th September 2010, 14:57
Tags: philosophy, religion
God, eh? What’s that all about then? In this post I want to talk about the uneasy relationship between science and religion in the modern world.
I don’t think that science and religion have ever made particularly cosy bed fellows, and I doubt they ever will. But in many ways I think that this could, and should, be a non-issue. Just to lay my cards on the table, I’d consider myself a fairly staunch atheist. It would, quite literally, require a miracle to turn me into a theist. Now, contrary to what you might be expecting, I am not actually going to launch into an anti-religious screed. Probably.
Continue reading ‘Preach the Controversy’
Published 23rd September 2010, 14:04
Tags: alt-med, quackery, scientific methodology
The title of this post is a quote from Wolfgang Pauli. It was the ultimate scientific smackdown in response to a terrible paper, which was vague and unfalsifiable.
Based only on Pauli’s quote, let’s then take these 3 statements:
A) Pauli was not supportive of the paper
B) Pauli was supportive of the paper
C) Pauli’s favourite Care Bear would have been TenderHeart Bear, had he not died in 1958.
Of course, A) is right B) is wrong and C) is not even wrong. Essentially, C) isn’t wrong but it certainly isn’t right. It is a disconnected supposition based on… well, nothing. We have no evidence to even begin to test the idea that Pauli would have loved TenderHeart Bear.
Continue reading ‘This isn’t right. This isn’t even wrong.’
Published 16th September 2010, 16:08
Tags: cancer, media, research
Right. The Daily Express. You know, that suppositry that thinks it’s a newspaper? Well, today it carries the headline “ASPIRIN STOPS BOWEL CANCER“. Apparently Princess Diana was unavailable for comment.
Whatever about bowel cancer, I can always spot the work of an arsehole.
Continue reading ‘Express Your Contempt’